HE departed for England duty with just 45 minutes of rugby in two-and-a-half months under his belt, but prop Davey Wilson has returned to Bath colours fitter in both body and mind.

Thrown in at the deep end midway through the Six Nations Championship as Leicester tighthead Dan Cole suffered a neck injury that ended his season, the 28-year -old became one of the stars of Stuart Lancaster’s team as they finished runners-up behind Ireland.

Showing the form that Bath first team coach Neal Hatley believes makes him “on his day, one of the most destructive scrummagers in Europe’’, Wilson thrust himself firmly in contention for starting duty on the three-Test summer tour of New Zealand.

Not bad for a player who was concerned he might only play only a fleeting part in this season’s Six Nations.

“At the start of the Six Nations I didn’t think I’d be involved too much at all, to be honest,’’ he told the Wiltshire Times.

“I was just getting back to fitness and then all of a sudden Dan Cole got injured and I managed to slot in.

“There wasn’t much time to worry about it, I just got my head down and got everything right during the week. I got tested by Ireland but after that I thought I started to feel pretty good.

“At first I was a bit apprehensive, not being match fit. I’d waited so long for a shot and went in after only 45 minutes of rugby.

“After that, I started to feel good. I did OK. I still feel I can play a lot better and I’ve got a little bit more to come.

“I was a bit disappointed with some of the scrummaging efforts because that’s what I pride myself on but overall I was fairly pleased and unbelievably honoured to be starting.

“I was disappointed at times when I wasn’t getting on, when I thought I could have added something.

“I’m happy to put my hand up and hopefully get some more chances in future.’’

The world champion All Blacks now lie in wait in the summer – probably the ultimate test of the new-found confidence of Lancaster’s England.

“It will be interesting and tough because they are the best in the world and, at home, they’ll be even better I guess,’’ added Wilson.

“It’s where we want to go and test ourselves. We’re got to look at it as an opportunity because you get better from things like that.

“We’ll turn up and play our best and give everything, like we have over the last few weeks.’’ For now though, Bath get the benefit of a rejuvenated and fit player for the all-important conclusion of their season.

“The tests I’ve had have been unreal so I feel fresh and being exposed to that fast (international) rugby is only going to help me in the Premiership,’’ he added.

“The squad is massively motivated to make something of this year and make it memorable for everyone.

“You judge your career by silverware at the end of the day. We’ve not achieved anything and we’re at that stage of our career where we want to make something of it.’’